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Trump Says His Personal Lawyer Michael Cohen Handled 'Crazy' Stormy Daniels Deal

In a Fox News interview, Trump confirmed for the first time that Cohen had represented him in "this crazy Stormy Daniels deal," referring to an adult-film star who says she had a one-night stand with Trump in 2006.

Reuters

Updated:April 27, 2018, 7:24 AM IST
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Trump Says His Personal Lawyer Michael Cohen Handled 'Crazy' Stormy Daniels Deal
File photo: US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, April 15, 2018. (Image: Reuters)
New York/Washington: US President Donald Trump distanced himself from his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Thursday, saying Cohen handled only a fraction of his legal affairs and that he had nothing to do with the criminal investigation into the lawyer.

In a Fox News interview, Trump confirmed for the first time that Cohen had represented him in "this crazy Stormy Daniels deal," referring to an adult-film star who says she had a one-night stand with Trump in 2006.

FBI agents raided Cohen's office and home on April 9, an action that infuriated the president. Prosecutors said in a court filing several days later that they have been investigating the lawyer for months, largely over his business dealings rather than his legal work.

"This doesn't have to do with me," Trump said in the Fox interview hours before a court hearing on documents seized in the raids. "They're looking at something having to do with his business. I have nothing to do with his business."

Trump called Cohen a good guy but said he handled only "a tiny, tiny little fraction" of his overall legal work.

Prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, possible campaign law violations in connection with a payment to Daniels, and perhaps other matters related to Trump's presidential campaign, a person familiar with the probe said.

A federal judge on Thursday planned to consider whose lawyers should get to see the seized documents first. Prosecutors have said they do not believe the papers are likely to contain many privileged documents related to Trump. In a court filing Thursday morning, they cited Trump’s comment that Cohen handled only small part of his legal work.

The investigation into Cohen stemmed in part from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, something that Trump has repeatedly denied.

A lawyer for Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the investigation.

Cohen has admitted paying $130,000 to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, before the 2016 election to secure her silence about a one-night stand she said she had with Trump in 2006. Cohen said the payment was legal, and Daniels has sued to end her nondisclosure agreement.

Trump, who has denied having an affair with Daniels, said Cohen did nothing wrong in representing him in the Daniels case. "There were no campaign funds going into this, which would have been a problem," he told Fox.

Trump's comments on Thursday appeared to contradict his statements to reporters aboard Air Force One on April 5 that he knew nothing about the payment or where the money came from.

"Hugely damaging admission by the president," Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said on MSNBC shortly after Trump's interview. "Because according to what he said on Air Force One a few weeks ago, he didn't know anything about the agreement, he didn't know anything about the payment. Michael Cohen went off and did this on a lark and Mr Trump knew nothing about it."

On Wednesday, Cohen said in a filing in Los Angeles federal court that he would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in connection with the civil lawsuit filed by Daniels.

COHEN DOCUMENTS

A federal judge in Manhattan was expected to consider later on Thursday who should get the first look at the documents seized from Cohen.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood ordered the hearing to discuss the possible appointment of an independent official known as a special master to review the documents and determine whether they are shielded by attorney-client privilege before handing them over to prosecutors.

Lawyers for Cohen and Trump, who are seeking to limit prosecutors' ability to review the documents, are expected to appear at the hearing. Attorney-client privilege shields communications between a lawyer and a client, with some exceptions.

Prosecutors have said the documents should be reviewed by a "taint team" of lawyers within their own office, who would be walled off from the main prosecution team. Cohen filed a legal action to block them from reviewing the documents, arguing that either his lawyers or a special master should get a first look.

Lawyers for Trump have also argued that they should be allowed the first look at documents related to the president. In a court filing on Wednesday, they said that Trump would personally "make himself available, as needed, to aid in our privilege review on his behalf."

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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